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Dishonored: Not Killing Isn't Easy

Dishonored: Not Killing Isn't Easy

Dishonored hates you. Everything it gives you can be used to end life in a huge variety of interesting and entertaining ways, then it chastises you for it. You want to be a nutcase: hacking off man-size limbs and throwing their decapitated heads at their friends? Go for it. But be ready to face the consequences, which are dire.

Not only will the ending be darker, but the streets become more dangerous, riddled with more swarms of rats and a higher presence of Weepers (read: plague victims, turned shuffling, zombie-like shells of men). The game has no boss fights, just a constant fight with yourself, trying to hold back your barely contained aggression.

The problem is that the actual killing is better than many games that are focused purely on killing. People say power corrupts, and the game actually makes you question your own personality. If I had badass, steampunk-ninja powers I would be a bad person indeed: pausing time and slapping my boss, unleashing swarms of Rats into fast-food restaurants and stealing the burgers in the ensuing carnage, possessing people and making them touch other people's bums; I would be unstoppable.


Anyway; at the heart of the story, you are performing assassinations for a group of people you don't really know all that well, various acts of violence, without ever questioning their motives; blindly following orders. But there is always a choice.I have tampered with the walls of light put up by the fascist regime, fooling countless guards into chasing me through, believing they were protected and instead becoming ash.

I have knocked guards out, only to throw them into the sea to be devoured by the deadly fish within. I have cut off heads and limbs, leaving them to be discovered, like a warning sign, instilling fear like a sociopathic Batman. I even stabbed an unarmed prisoners during the tutorial mission, just to test my blade.

On my second playthrough I will be a shadow, carefully placing unconscious guards into loving embraces with their colleagues, mindful of their safety from the countless swarms of rats and the deadly water. You see the guards have families, most will even get their own squad after last nights bravery, the myriad promotions probably due to a lack of officers.


I asked Harvey Smith (Co-creative Director at Arkane Studios) if it was an intentional design decision to make it so fun to kill, yet in contrast punishing the player for doing so. His answer was "FOR SURE. I love it when people get that". It is the only game that has actually made me question my morals, other than that one moment in Knights of the Old Republic, where I forced my Wookie kill his lifelong friend.

Dishonored has a clear moral undertone; killing is wrong. This is pretty black and white in itself but the execution is flawless; also refreshing. Most other games containing a moral compass give you two bars (red means evil) and if you are evil your skin turns crispy and you get red eyes. It is great for somebody to take this concept a step farther than the usual brainless, binary choice. If you like brains with your game (literally sometimes) do yourself a favour and buy Dishonored.

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